Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer's cramp of the brain

I'm just posting some of the book, tonight. Too lost in wordage to think, so here's Vinnie's first job, when he's thirteen, working for Mickey Maggioli.


Now, Mickey was hardly a boy; no, he was close to social security age, and looking every year of it, from the lines around his sleepy eyes to the hook in his nose to how he sort of shuffled along, like he couldn’t pick his feet up all the way off the ground. He ran the parking scam in the market and had since the thirties, they tell me. You know the kind -- park here? Pay me to watch your car. If you don’t, who knows what might happen to it? Most of the drivers at Fulton knew how it worked and always had a twenty ready for when Mickey’d glide up and say bullshit-something like, “Hey, Frankie, how ya doin’?”

Of course, the guy’d always smile at him and say, “Good, Mickey, how’s things?”

“The same ol’ same ol’,” Micke’d say. “You know how it goes.” Then he’d put out his hand to shake and they’d shift the note into his palm like nothing, and he’d add, “See ya later.”

And the guy’d know his load would get protected while he was doing his order. Because Mickey, he was under the protection of a made guy. Who, I never found out, but for sure he was on record, and this was all just a cost of doing business, know what I mean?

Me, all I had to do was keep an eye out for non-precinct patrol cars and give him a nod when things were clear. Every now and then a local patrol’d glide by, giving the idea that the cops were keeping a watch on the place and weren’t on the pad, but that was just crap. The real muscle of the area was Mickey. And I was one of a dozen kids who floated in and out as his backup. For that, I’d get twenty five a night and a weekly bonus, where Union guys got thirty-two a night to hand-truck heavy boxes of fish around. It was easy to figure out which was better for me.

Of course, one of my plans was to take over for him when he got ready to hit it down to Florida. Even then I was dreaming big...well, for a thirteen year-old.

Now most of the drivers were regulars and knew the drill -- but there was always somebody who don’t give a shit how things work. First time I saw it was when I’d been working with Mickey for a week, with this truck that parked in the center of the street. The driver got out and headed straight for the market. I whistled at Mickey; he saw the guy and shuffled over, calling out, “Hey, bud, that’s twenty to park here.”

The driver was one of those big burly bastards who think because they got fists like hams they got control of the world. So he snapped, “This ain’t no parking garage; take a hike.” Then he headed on.

Mickey watched him go then motioned for me to keep watch for unknown cops. Then he nodded to a guy we called Tommy Hooks. He was this monster Sicilian kid made of total beef, but only half a forehead, standing over by a shed at the base of Peck Slip and South Street, a hook hanging from his shoulder (how else would you think he got his name? A lousy golf swing?). He lived in the projects up the road and was way more brawn than brain, but that kind’s good to have around.

He followed the driver around a corner and waved back with that big-assed hook, then started swinging it back and forth like he was just waiting for some reason to slip it into somebody’s neck. One of the other kids -- this older guy named Cisco -- told me he’d actually done that, once, to where you could see the point of it sticking out the guy’s throat. I was swallowing it and could just see Tommy flicking his wrist to flip the guy to the ground, like I’d seen butchers do with sides of beef they were about to carve up, then dragging him off, like Cisco said. But then he went too far and told me he’d hung the guy on a conveyor belt and they’d ground him up into hamburger, and I knew he was just messing with me.

I got even by asking the other guys if Cisco “ever patted their asses like he did mine.” When he found out, he wanted to beat the crap out of me, but Mickey slapped him and said it’s his own damn fault and to, as he put it, “Shut the fuck up.” Then he took me aside and said, “You’re a good kid. You don’t let nobody give you crap.” I felt like a million.

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